My youngest recently stopped wearing diapers. It’s a good
thing, of course—and it was time. She just turned three and like with my other
children she made the decision herself, firmly, that she was done with all
She's not been a baby for some time and will tell you so. But being our youngest, we have kept her in our minds as such, and it's impossible to deny now that she's well beyond babyhood.
It has kind of moved us undeniably into a
new phase of parenting: we no longer have any semblance of a baby or even
really a toddler. We now have three children whose needs are increasingly being
met by the same means as we meet our own.
The days of play mats meeting their intellectual and
physical development needs are long over. Now we spend our time going to soccer
practice, swimming lessons, tumbling classes.
Playdates are no longer me sitting with a friends having
coffee while our children putter around a Thomas the Tank Engine table. Now
there are kids’ movies, birthday parties. Today we are going bowling with
several of my children’s friends.
And now each of the two bathrooms in my house is more likely
to be busy than not, long car rides or shopping excursions demand many more
visits to public facilities than in the old days.
This is, of course, the point of parenting, to guide a baby into self-sufficiency.
We have been gradually getting rid of signs of baby over the
last couple of years, of course: no more high chair, crib, baby bottles,
onesies, cumbersome buggies. But somehow this last development has made it
strike home that the baby days are over. Childhood is in full throttle.
They have opinions about clothes, music, food, what plans we
are making. We no longer have to fit naps into our schedule or
lug around a diaper bag (at one point all three of my children—there are fewer
than three years between them—were in diapers).
The pure maintenance that was parenting—keeping them clean,
fed, clothed—has been replaced with a new form of cohabitation. This is, of course, the point of parenting, to guide a baby into self-sufficiency. It's just surprising sometimes how quickly things shift, how nothing feels gradual.